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Each year OEMs add more and more advanced technology to their vehicles. As a result, the skill set demanded of today’s technician has transitioned from one that is purely mechanical, into one that is more technology-based. Up until now, technicians have had access to master techs at their respective manufacturers to help diagnose and repair vehicles, and that was enough. However, that might be changing.
A recent AdAge article discusses the battle between CarPlay (Apple’s in-car technology) and Android Auto (Google’s). As there is increasing demand from consumers for smartphone integration into their vehicles, these two behemoths have been courting auto manufacturers.
While the OEMs argue that they will be the ones held responsible by consumers should accidents occur while drivers use these systems, according to the AdAge article, control over this technology is slowly being transferred away from the OEM and towards either Apple or Google. Apple, in particular, is notoriously tight fisted with their operating system. It has no open API and allows nothing onto its hardware without full consent. According to the article, when asked about guidelines for app approval, a GM spokesman stated, “Apple and Google own the products themselves and are really the only ones who can speak to the final decision-making.”
While this struggle over technology control occurs, the question still waiting to be asked is who supports these technologies? Consumers confronted with issues will undoubtedly seek assistance from their dealership. If both Apple and Google retain control over these technologies, they will also be required to support it, or open their systems up to manufacturers and dealers to diagnose and fix, which judging from previous history seems very unlikely.
In the event that a consumer encounters a problem with their CarPlay or Android Auto systems, in order to diagnose and fix the issue, technicians will more than likely have to interact with either Apple or Google. Whether that’s accomplished through step-by-step instructions via a dedicated automotive support team that the OEM implements, or Apple and Google develop some sort of over-the-air diagnosis and repair processes, is yet to be seen.
Manufacturers are adding hot new features to vehicles in an effort to make them more desirable – such as integrated Wi-Fi hotspots. But in so doing they are trading control over those features. Perhaps someday there will be an Apple Auto Genius Bar similar to the tech support available at Apple Stores, but dedicated to automobiles. Only time will tell. But one thing is certain – automotive technicians are going to need increasingly advanced training so as to keep up with the pace of advancing automotive technology.